[note: work-in-progress!! aim to “launch” summer 2022 (lols in 2023); to help or give feedback, hmu at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line “ACCESS”]
nyc is inaccessible AF, but we wanna be better; this page gives tips & examples for venue accessibility statements spaces can add to their websites & social media!
this is about INFO, NOT JUDGMENT! [read to bottom if you rly want rambling on that theme that somehow turns into sh*t-talking carnegie hall??]
[thanks to dan palumbo (1987-2017); sorry for delay]
what are listing symbols?
🅰️ = all ages
♿️ = fully wheelchair accessible with ADA restroom
☑️ = wheelchair accessible but may require prior contact for access *or* lack an ADA restroom; there should be a link &/or note after entry
📶 = necessary stairs; probably not wheelchair accessible
❓ = waiting on info
[note: i have individually contacted hundreds of venues this year, through email, DMs, drop-ins, & even (gasp!!!) phone calls; if your space still has a “?,” please email me yr info, even if you think it’s obvious!!! both my memory & powers of observation are trash, i don’t trust myself without confirmation…]
😷 = has masking policy!!
if u see a bold/underlined “ACCESS” at end of listing, that’s an actual link to a page where the venue itself shares the info; hurray!!! :D
sample text for venues
a basic accessibility statement should provide info on masking (😷), age policy (🅰️), wheelchair accessibility (♿️ of entry & restroom, including whether prior contact is required), & an email contact for questions. provide this info even & especially if a space is not accessible; don’t make people work to find out if they can visit!
be concise about basics before giving more details, & be honest –– e.g., don’t say “masks required” if most people are unmasked, or mention an elevator if you don’t have permission to use it. make info easy to find in a fixed, visible location on your website &/or socials (such as site domain + /access, or an instagram profile highlight labeled “accessibility”), & make info easy to understand by using clear, explicit language. when unsure, describe; e.g., if you aren’t sure if your venue’s bathroom is wheelchair accessible, give the width of the door & describe the flooring inside.
a “fully accessible space” might say something like, “[Venue] is an all ages and wheelchair accessible space; we request that all audience members wear masks, and can provide KN95s at entry if needed. There is a ramp to the entrance’s glass door; visitors are visible to staff, who can assist with entry, and the venue and restrooms are step-free. Individual event pages provide warning if strobe lighting will be in use. Please contact us at <email> with any questions.”
1) mask policy
😷 “Masks are required; KN95s are available at entry if needed.”
[X] “[Venue] does not require or provide masks.”
2) age policy
🅰️ “Events are all ages.”
[X] “Events are [16+, 18+, 21+] unless otherwise noted.”
3) wheelchair access (entrance, restroom, prior contact)
📶 “[Venue] is up a flight of 12 stairs and is not wheelchair accessible.”
☑️ “[Venue] is wheelchair accessible by [temporary ramp, portable stairclimber, etc.]; to arrange entry, please contact us at <email> with the date of your planned visit and [any other info needed to provide timely access]. The restroom is not ADA compliant; the door is 25″ wide.”
♿️ “[Venue]’s main entrance opens automatically, and the bathroom is step-free and wheelchair accessible.”
note: few nyc venues have automatic doors, so even if your space is technically wheelchair accessible, it may require prior contact; this is why you should include entrance info describing what happens when a wheelchair user gets to your venue, & whether any steps are necessary before arrival. is there a buzzer visitors can ring or a phone number they can call to be let inside, or will they be immediately visible to door staff who can provide assistance? if yes, say so; if no, figure out what info’s needed to arrange entry & provide instructions.
4) contact info
“Please contact us at [email/phone] with any questions.”
make sure it’s an email someone actually checks, & that inquiries will get a response! most email clients will allow you to create & save a template with a pre-written message, which i highly recommend for saving time & ensuring accuracy!
–– non-performance spaces; even if the main space is accessible, can wheelchair users access other advertised spaces, such as a backyard or rooftop?
–– seating options // example from Nowadays: “During parties, seating is available both on and off the dance floor.”
–– strobes & lighting // example from Nowadays: “Most nighttime parties include the use of strobe lights and water based haze.” if you don’t use strobe lights, you can let potential visitors know that, too!
–– additional restroom info, such as being gender-neutral, having changing stations, etc.
–– location of free water
–– harm reduction supplies, if available
–– how to locate organizers or other staff
–– language info, if many staff members &/or materials are multilingual (ideally provide this info in that other language on your site!)
–– distance to transit options, including whether there’s an accessible station nearby (or anyway a station that should be accessible if sh*t is working, according to new.mta.info/accessibility/stations)
–– asl interpretation & sound descriptions, if available
examples in the wild
…followed by “→” & my reductive translation on site. the below examples all provide concise accessibility statements on fixed pages (hurray!!), though most are missing age info & masking policies. some spaces aren’t included because they lack a fixed access info page (blank forms, e-flux), change their urls often without redirects (fouroneone), or aren’t easily searched cuz users need to expand a section to see info (gibney, greene space, pioneer works), but their info’s otherwise great!! [greek chorus sings 🎵 “she’s f*ckin annoyinggg, why make these hyper-specific critiques, just email them or don’t!” 🎵]
• Village Vanguard // https://villagevanguard.com/faq // “ARE YOU HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE? No, the 15 steps down to the club are not wheelchair accessible.” → “📶 15 steps” // starting with a GREAT inaccessibility statement: clear, concise, uses words like “wheelchair” people often search when seeking info. inaccessible spaces often provide no access info at all, & some use hazy language or start with their future plans, which is not helpful if someone just wants to know if they can get inside. remember that the point is to provide info for people who wanna visit your space; don’t waste their time with your hopes & dreams or guilt, just tell them those 15 steps aren’t accessible!!
• Amant // https://www.amant.org/visit/plan-your-visit // “Our entry at 315 Maujer Street is step-free and suitable for wheelchair users. Our galleries, bookstore, and restroom facilities are also wheelchair accessible. … For further information about accessibility at Amant, or for booking an interpreter, please email us at: email@example.com.” → ♿️ // page also includes info on exhibition materials (in english & spanish, tho the site is not), descriptive audio guides, ASL interpretation.
• CPR // https://www.cprnyc.org/mission-values // “CPR is a fully ADA-compliant and accessible venue with two gender inclusive restrooms and one wheelchair accessible restroom.” → ♿️
• Dimenna Center // https://dimennacenter.org/about/ // “Our facility is fully accessible for those who have impaired mobility. There is elevator access to all our spaces, and our bathrooms are designed for wheelchair access. There is a wheelchair on site, and we ask visitors to bring a companion with them if they need assistance with entering/exiting or operating their wheelchair.” → ♿️
• Grace Exhibition Space // https://graceexhibitionspace.org/about // “GRACE EXHIBITION SPACE IS WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE IN THE PERFORMANCE SPACE AND RESTROOM” → ♿️ // all caps isn’t great for readability… but this is marvelously succinct!! :D
• The Jazz Gallery // https://jazzgallery.org/faq // “Our performance space & lounge can be easily accessed by wheelchair and we have one ADA compliant bathroom in our lounge.” → ♿️
• LPR // https://lpr.com/faq/ // “Q. Is LPR wheelchair accessible? A. Yes. We have an elevator down to the main room. If you have other specific needs or questions about elevator access, please feel free to e-mail us in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, just let our door staff know that you’ll need elevator access and someone will be glad to help out.” → ♿️
• Nowadays // https://nowadays.nyc/about/ // “The wheelchair entrance to our indoor space is in the driveway, which is the access point most commonly used to enter Nowadays. During parties the driveway gate is locked, so please ask staff at the street entrance for assistance with entry. All of our bathrooms are gender-neutral. There is one accessible stall indoors. Just ask any Nowadays staff member for the key, and they can show you the way. […] The ground in our back yard is rough dirt with some gravel, and the dance floor, which is in use on Sundays between mid-May and late October for Mister Sunday, is made of a soft playground material (it’s also a little uneven). There is one accessible bathroom outdoors, and places to eat are available at picnic tables and on benches.” → ☑️ “for wheelchair entry, ask staff at street entrance; backyard is rough dirt/gravel, soft dance floor” // also includes info on seating & lights (excerpted above), quieter spaces, food availability times, non-alcoholic drinks, & water + earplugs.
• Roulette // https://roulette.org/directions/ticketing-policies/ // “Roulette’s main floor is wheelchair accessible space via the ramp entrance on Atlantic Avenue. Requests for reasonable accommodation should be made in advance of the concert or event. Please contact our Box Office at email@example.com or (917) 267-0368 (voice only) for questions or needs. We have an ADA compliant and all-gender restroom with a baby changing station.” → ♿️ // “reasonable” always feels a lil weird to me, but that’s a quibble ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
looking for PARTNERS
[chunks from this other long post on access]
please reach out <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you…
• are disabled & luv live music (especially if u live in nyc & use a wheelchair or other mobility aids; would love feedback on stuff like sample language for sites)
• are with an organization promoting accessibility in the arts
• know how to make mobile / webb apps, especially with map integration (shoutout to nick mcmaster of krallice, who’s started building a web app that can quickly import spreadsheets & give visual indicators of access!)
that 2nd ask is the biggest, so let’s indent & expand for emphasis:
i hope to partner with Another Website capable of hosting & maintaining a database of detailed venue accessibility profiles; if your nyc-based org can handle this project, i will help you build it & also boost your traffic, with every listing linking to yr site!
if you’re with a national nonprofit & think you can do this, then plz do reach out, but i may be skeptical: multi-city efforts often fail cuz both accessibility & nyc are complex AF –– & too often orgs want to say they’re providing a resource without putting in money or hours. i will do lots of unpaid labor to make this happen, but i’m not looking to run someone else’s site; if your only “offer” is for me to maintain your database myself, & you won’t correct your outdated listings even when i share all my data with you, then i will just grumble about it on the internet, half access! (that’s a site i invited to partner on this, since they are supposedly already doing it; check them out for hard-to-parse info on the closed-since-2019 brooklyn bazaar! 🙃 but more seriously, half access, plz get back in touch if you wanna try again!!)
[i love our town, but it is at times a garbage fire:] lengthier post-amble
[i wrote all these words sometime in ’22 & they were v distracting at the top but i don’t feel like deleting them yet soooo here we go ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ if you read all of this, that’s quite a personal choice lol]
we know this: nyc is TRASH for people with disabilities.
one of the biggest issues is just GETTING AROUND: our subway system is one of the least accessible major transit systems in the world (check this sobering comptroller’s report for breakdowns); where elevators exist, they’re often busted; the buses are a shitshow & Access-a-Ride is a joke; the “vast majority” of our traffic signals are inaccessible to those with visual impairments, & our sidewalks are “an obstacle course”. if you’ve ever maneuvered a stroller through one of the zillion stations without an elevator, you may have been devastated but were certainly not surprised by the death of 22-year-old Malaysia Goodson, who fell down a flight of stairs while carrying one with her daughter, a horrific accident that renewed conversations around the MTA’s lack of access as a reproductive justice issue.
none of us want to continue these fucked up disparities in our creative communities, but… MONEY. even developers with cash aren’t building inclusive spaces, probably because the city as a whole hasn’t done shit about its mountains of ada-related lawsuits; last year a nyt piece promisingly titled “Finding a Home that Can Accommodate a Disability” may have achieved the impressive feat of pissing people off more than their usual real estate trash fire fare (turns out the solution for that particular 34-year-old was just paying $2400/month in rent 🙃).
because most of nyc is inaccessible, & the city isn’t subsidizing progress, accessible spaces tend to be more expensive… and those without a truckload of cash often don’t have the means to rent them. it’s gonna be tough to find a DIY spot that can be reached via wheelchair for the same reason that very few of our homes can be reached that way: who can afford a place with an elevator??? the DIY-world aside, even most “legit” art spaces are facing hella costs & back rent right now because, oh right, the fuckin pandemic.
if it sounds like i’m engaging in preemptive (…down here i guess post-emptive??) apologetics, that’s because i am, lol: i want to start providing info on access in music venues, but i’m not trying to shame DIY spaces for lacking capital or valorize institutions that pay their way to goodwill. to take an extreme case, i’m not here to applaud carnegie hall for either their elevators or their afrofuturism festival; i’m glad those things exist in ways that benefit people i care about, but recognize that ultimately the institution itself is an irredeemable cesspool that exists to benefit the rich (mostly) dudes on its board. (see also Sizeable Rant at nyc-noise.com/fuck-carnegie/; a BIT much, but i’m still partial to “goofy noblesse oblige-ass fetishization of the supposedly-altruistic rich,” lolol…)